What did you do this summer?

Writing? Yeah.

It’s a common teacher question for students as they return to class after three months away. It makes for an easy prompt to get kids writing right off the bat. Correct? But if inquiry is such an important piece of where we are headed as a school district with our instruction, how do we make this fit?

Keeping in mind we want them to write and enjoy what they are writing about, what if we reworked the questions just a little bit to help us get to know our students a bit better? We can be the inquiring mind modeling appropriate questioning.  This great post from Jenny Froehle challenges us to do just that. Consider the examples below but take the time to read the entire blog post and the rest of her list.

Not “What did you DO this summer?” but “What did you LEARN or LEARN TO DO this summer?”

Not “What do you like?” but “What do you want to know more about?”

Not “What is your learning style?” but “Where and whom do you learn from?”

Not “What worries or upsets you?” but “What do you do when you’re faced with a really interesting or tough-to-solve problem?”

Not “What do you want me to know about you?” but “What do you want the world to know and think about you?” Now and in the future.

Being a Reflective Teacher

On the heels of WOISD adopting the New Visioning Plan, it has become more important than ever to reflect on what we do in our daily jobs of educating students. One way to do that is to video yourself teaching. According to Paul Moss, if we want “to measure your skill in creating a classroom culture of challenge, and curiosity, where intrinsic motivation and independent learning are the primary focus,” what better way to do that than watching yourself teach? While it is rarely comfortable being evaluated as a professional educator, we must be comfortable in utilizing feedback to improve our professional practices. Being your own first and worst critic is one way to be a self-directed learner and model for students what it’s like to take learning seriously.

The video is crucial because you will see things you might miss during the process of running your classroom. It can be as simple as propping up your iPad or smartphone on the corner of your desk facing the room and hitting record in the camera app.  Nobody will see it other than you unless you decide to share it for feedback from others, so it doesn’t have to be a professional production. Make it simple and easy for you.

Use the following chart that Paul created that gives you nine questions to ask yourself while watching the video of you teaching. And if you need to borrow a video camera to pull this off, let me know. I’d be happy to let you borrow one.

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